Moby Dick in the Dark: leviathan redux

publicity photo for Moby Dick in the Dark

(Clockwise from top left: Robinson J. Cyprian, Corey Bradberry, Mack Gordon, Elizabeth McCoy.)

Why?

Moby Dick in the Dark, the latest production from Theatre in the Dark, is an audio adaptation of Herman Melville’s enormous novel, Moby-Dick: or, the White Whale. Listening to the audiobook takes 24 hours. This audio play lasts a mere hour and 40 minutes, including a ten-minute intermission.

But it still feels long.

Moby Dick in the Dark hits the highlights of Captain Ahab’s hunt for Moby Dick, the sperm whale that chomped off his leg. Many consider Melville’s novel a classic; in some analyses, it’s about perception. There’s little regard for subtlety in the audio play however: Moby Dick in the Dark tells a simple story with a predictable ending.

And it’s just a straightforward radio play. There’s virtually no formal innovation, although, to be fair, Corey Bradberry, who adapted and directed Moby Dick in the Dark, toys a bit with metatheatricality, allowing the actors to break out of character to discuss production details, but that obvious fakery is distracting and serves no discernible purpose.

Nick Montopoli’s original score is effective and the sound design by director Bradberry and actor Mack Gordon is evocative. (The seagulls in my neighbourhood participated, which was kind of them.)

However, the acting from the three-person cast is generally weak. Elizabeth McCoy, who plays Ishmael and other characters, overacts. And, although Robinson J. Cyrpian throws himself into the role of Ahab, he undercuts his work by adopting a mid-Atlantic accent, as though he were impersonating a Great Actor performing a Work of Literary Merit, as opposed to inhabiting the soul of a living human being. Only Gordon (chief mate Starbuck and others) is consistently credible.

Disappointing.

MOBY DICK IN THE DARK Based on the novel by Herman Melville. Adapted and directed by Corey Bradberry. A Theatre in the Dark production. Received live on March 12.  Livestreaming until April 11. Tickets.

 

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About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

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